The Pictorial Field-Book
of The Revolution
by Benson J. Lossing
HE pleasure-seeker will find much about Montreal to amuse him; and the staid traveler, searching for the gold of general knowledge, might fill a large chapter in his journal, in recording what is noteworthy among present things there. Mine is a tour too specific in its aim to allow much latitude of departure from historic research, and, therefore, things irrelevant, yet incidentally connected with the objects of the journey, must be passed by with brief notice.
Early on the morning after our arrival we joined purses and company with
a young married couple from Burlington, who were on a (August 9, 1848.)
wedding jaunt, and, procuring a barouche, went out to visit the "lions" of the city and suburbs. We first rode to the "Mountain," a lofty hill on the west, in the rear of the city, composed chiefly of a sort of compound trap-rock slightly covered with soil upon its summit, and crowned with a forest of small trees. The road, as winds up its southern slope, passes the Priests' Farm,(1) the Governor's Palace, and many beautiful villas, and opens to the view a lovely, cultivated country on the western part of the land and the Isle of Jesus beyond. Near the summit of the mountain is a cottage completely enveloped in trees and shrubbery, where ices, wines, and fruit tempt the appetite. We loitered in its sweet flower gardens for half an hour, and then ascended to the hill-top. Beautiful panorama! The city, with its numerous polished tin roofs, lay glittering at our et in the morning sun. The broad St. Lawrence, cleft by St. Helen's and one or two smaller islands, was teeming with water craft, and in every direction the landscape was dotted with little villages, each having its church, "pointing its taper spire to Heaven."
We descended the northern slope of the mountain to the city, and visited St. James's or the Bishop's Church, one of the largest and most richly decorated church edifices in the province. It is the cathedral of the titular Bishop of Montreal, and contains many fine European paintings over the several altars. There were worshipers at all the altars, and some of the confessionals were occupied by penitents and priests. An attendant, a devout old Frenchman, showed us a number of relics, and assured us, by a printed placard in French, that certain prayers and money-offerings at the different shrines would blot out a host of transgressions Our Protestant education taught us that prayers without faith avail nothing, and our faith in this particular being like a "grain of mustard seed," we saved our money and time, and hastened to the Parliament House and the Grey Nunnery near. We stepped into the capacious parish Church or Cathedral of Notre Dame on our way. It has a marble font said to be twelve hundred years old, having belonged to a church in Rome in the seventh century. We visited the Legislative chambers and the valuable library in the Parliament House; and then rang for entrance at the gate of the GREY NUNNERY, or General Hospital of the Charitable Sisters. This, as an almoner of comforts to the aged and lonely, is a noble institution, the income of the establishment, and the whole time of the Sisters
1 The "Priests' Farm" (La Maison des Pretres)
is an ecclesiastical establishment situated on the south side of the "Mountain."
The buildings, inclosed within high walls, with massive round towers, are
large, and have an antique appearance. They are surrounded by several fine
gardens and orchards, and, in summer, are a weekly resort for the professors
and pupils of the seminary and college.
2 The Parliament House and the valuable library within it, containing the Legislative records of the province, were burned by a political mob in April, 1849. The loss is irreparable, for many of the books were too rare to be replaced.
of Charity connected with it, being devoted to the relief of poor and infirm old persons, and the nurture and education of orphans.(1) The building is spacious, and a large number of both classes are there made comfortable. Our visit was at mid-day. When the clock struck twelve, a long procession of the nuns, veiled, marched slowly into the chapel, singing a Gregorian chant, and knelt within the nave in prayer. We followed in respectful silence. Each nun had a small crucifix and string of beads attached; and whatever may have been the case with their thoughts, their eyes never wandered, notwithstanding strangers were gazing upon them. They were habited in dark drab dresses, bound with black velvet and looped up behind; aprons with stripes, and over the head (on which they wore a cap with a deep border), covering the face and neck, a thin black veil was thrown, through which the features were discernible. Some were young and pretty, others old and plain, but the sacred character of their labor of love invested them all with beauty. We visited a few other places of note, and, after "lunch," I left my company and went down to Longueuil, where Carleton was defeated by Warner in 1776. We are upon historic ground; let us open the old volume a few moments.
Montreal is built upon an island thirty miles long and twelve wide, and is upon the site of ancient Hochelaga, a noted Indian village which gave its name to the river in this vicinity. The first white man who visited the spot was Jaques Quartier or Cartier, a (October 3, 1535.) French navigator, who discovered the Gulf and River St. Lawrence, and gave them the name they bear(2) The vicinity, even up the slopes of the mountain, was tilled and covered with corn-fields. Cartier was enchanted with the view from the mountain-a view of "thirty leagues radius"--and, in honor of his king (Francis 1.), he called it Mount Royal. In time the name was modified to Montreal, and in this form was borne by the white settlement that gathered there in 1640. The spot was consecrated by the superior of the Jesuits, and a chapel built in 1642.
The Indians, at first friendly, became jealous, and at length hostile. The town was stockaded and slight bastions were built, but finally a strong wall of masonry was constructed, fifteen feet high, with battlements and six gates. The town gradually increased in size and commercial importance, and at the time of our Revolution was nearly as populous as Quebec. When, toward the middle of the last century, hostilities commenced between the English and French colonies, Montreal was an important place as a frontier town. There Duquesne de Menneville(3) and Vaudreuil de Cavagnal, French governors of Canada, fitted out their expeditions against the English on the Ohio and the unfriendly Indians of New York. Montreal was threatened by the English under Amherst in 1769, but it was not until the autumn (September 8, 1760.) of 1760 that it passed out of the possession of the French. Quebec surrendered 1760. a year before, and Vaudreuil retreated to Montreal, with a determination to make
1 This hospital was founded by M. Charron and others, in
1692. In 1748 It passed into the hands of a society of ladies, at the head
of whom was Madame Youville, who, being left a widow at the age of twenty-eight,
determined to devote her life and fortune to the relief of the infirm poor.
In 1755 the plan of the establishment was enlarged, so as to embrace orphans,
the cause of which was singular, as given in Bosworth's" Picture of
Montreal." One winter day, as Madame Y. was passing the" Little
River," she saw an infant hard frozen in the ice, with a poniard sticking
in its throat, and one of its little hands raised through the ice as if
in the attitude of demanding justice against the perpetrator of the crime.
Madame Y. was dreadfully shocked at the sight, and, on consultation with
her associates, it was resolved to extend their charity and protection to
orphans and foundlings.
2 He arrived in the gulf on the festival of St. Lawrence (10th of August), and, on account of that circumstance, named the waters in honor of the saint.
3 He built a fort on the Ohio, which was called Fort Duquesne. It is memorable as the place near which Braddock was defeated in 1755, when Washington's military talents were first conspicuously developed. The name of the fort was changed to Pitt, and the present city of Pittsburgh stands upon its site.
there a bold stand in defense of French dominion in Canada. The English invested Montreal in September, 1760. Amherst approached down the St. Lawrence from Oswego, General Murray advanced up the river from Quebec, and Colonel Haviland took post on the south side of the St. Lawrence, opposite the city. Vaudreuil perceived that resistance would be vain, and two days afterward the city was surrendered to the (September 6, 1760.) English. With this event French dominion ceased in Canada. The terms of capitulation were honorable to both parties. Private property was respected; the revenues of the priesthood were held sacred to their use; the Roman Catholic religion was undisturbed; the privileges of all classes were preserved and guarantied; and every thing was done to reconcile the people to their new masters. General Gage, afterward Governor of Massachusetts, was appointed Governor of Montreal.
Montreal remained in quiet possession of the English until 1775, when the invading army of the insurgent colonies disturbed its repose, after the capture of Forts St. John's and Chambly. A month previous to these events the town was alarmed by the appearance of an American detachment under Ethan Allen, but the result quieted their fears. When the command of the Northern army devolved upon Montgomery, he sent Allen, who had been traversing Canada in the neighborhood of the St. Lawrence, to retrace his steps and further arouse the people in favor of the rebellion. Active and brave, Allen gathered a large number to his standard. A week after he left the American camp at Isle Aux Noix he was at St. Ours, twelve miles south of the Sorel, with two hundred and fifty Canadians under arms. He wrote to Montgomery that within three days he would join him in laying siege to St. John's, with at least five hundred armed Canadians. On his way to join the main army, he marched up the east side of the St. Lawrence to Longueuil. When between that place and La Prairie, he fell in with Major Brown, at the head of an advanced party of Americans and Canadians, who informed him that Montreal was weak and defenseless, and proposed to make a joint attack upon the city. Allen had confidence in the courage and judgment of Brown, and, as the scheme opened an adventurous field, he agreed to the proposition
1 The island with buildings, seen on the left, is St. Helen's or Helena, now strongly fortified. It is in front of the city, a mile distant, and is a beautiful summer resort. It formerly belonged to the Barons of Longueuil, and is now the property of the crown. The picture is a fae-simile of the print, with all its defects in drawing.
Allen was to return to Longueuil, procure canoes, and cross the St. Lawrence with his troops below the city, while Brown was to cross above the town, with two hundred men, and the attack was to be made at opposite points simultaneously.
(September 24, 1773.)Allen crossed the river at night with eighty Canadians and thirty Americans. It was a rough, windy night, and so few were the canoes that they had to cross three times, yet the whole party passed the foaming waters in the light vessels safely before daylight. At dawn Allen expected to hear the signal of Brown, but the morning advanced, and it was evident that the latter had not crossed over. Guards were placed upon the roads to prevent persons from carrying intelligence into the town, and Allen would have retreated if his boats could have carried all over at once.
The Americans being discovered, armed men were soon seen issuing from the gates. A force of forty British regulars, more than two hundred Canadians, and a few Indians came down upon them from the town; but, notwithstanding the disparity in numbers, such was the bravery of some of the Americans, that the engagement lasted an hour and three quarters. At length, his men having all deserted but twenty-eight, seven of whom were wounded, Allen agreed to a surrender upon being promised honorable terms. They were marched to Montreal, and the officers who were on the field acted very civilly toward them; but when they were delivered into the custody of General Prescott, they experienced the most brutal treatment at his hands. On learning, by conversation with Allen, that he was the same man who had captured Ticonderoga, Prescott was greatly enraged, threatened him with a halter, and ordered him to be bound hand and foot in irons and placed on board the Gaspee war schooner. A bar of iron eight feet long was attached to his shackles, and, with his fellow-prisoners, who were fastened together in pairs with handcuffs, he was thrust into the lowest part of the ship, where neither seat nor bed was allowed them.(1) We shall have considerable
1 Ethan Allen was born in Roxbury, Litchfield county, in Connecticut. He went to Vermont at an early age, and about 1770 took an active part in the disturbances that occurred between the Hampshire Grants and the state of New York. The Legislature of the latter province proclaimed him an outlaw, and offered fifty pounds sterling for his apprehension. A party, determining to capture him while on a visit to his friends in Salisbury and lodge him in the jail at Poughkeepsie, came near effecting their object. He afterward led the expedition against Ticonderoga, and his former sins were forgotten by his enemies. In the autumn of 1775 he was twice sent into Canada to observe the disposition of the people, and, if possible, win them over to the American cause. On returning from his last tour to camp, he was induced by Major Brown to cross the St. Lawrence and attack Montreal. The former failed to co-operate with him, and he was captured and put in irons. He remained five weeks in irons on board the Gaspee, at Montreal, and when Carleton was repulsed by Warner at Longueuil, the vessel was sent down to Quebec. There he was transferred to another vessel, where he was treated humanely, and sent to England to be tried for treason. He was placed in charge of Brook Watson, a resident of Montreal, and afterward Lord Mayor of London. Allen, in his grotesque garb, attracted great attention in the streets of Falmouth, where he was landed. He was confined for a time in Pendennis Castle, near Falmouth, and was sent to Halifax in the spring- of 1776. He was confined in jail there until autumn, and was then sent to New York, then in possession of the British. There he was kept about a year and a half. In May, 1778, he was exchanged for Colonel Campbell, and returned to his fireside in Vermont. He never afterward actively engaged in military service. He died at Colchester, Vermont, February 13th, 1789, and his remains repose in a beautiful cemetery near the Wincoski, at Burlington. Ethan Allen was a blunt, honest man, of purest virtue and sternest integrity. In religion he was a free-thinker, and passed for an infidel. An anecdote is related of him, which illustrates the purity of his principles. He owed a citizen of Boston sixty pounds, for which he gave his promissory note. It was sent to Vermont for collection. It was inconvenient for Allen to pay, and the note was put in suit. Allen employed a lawyer to attend the court, and have the judgment postponed until he could raise the money. The lawyer determined to deny the genuineness of the signature, as the readiest method of postponing the matter, for in that case a witness at Boston would have to be sent for. When the case was called, it happened that Allen was in a remote part of the courthouse, and, to his utter astonishment, heard his lawyer gravely deny the signature of the note. With long and fierce strides he rushed through the crowd, and, confronting the amazed" limb of the law," rebuked him in a voice of thunder. "Mr. --, I did not hire you to come here and lie. That is a true note-I signed it-I'll swear to it-and I'll pay it. I want no shuffling, I want time. What I employed you for was to get this business put over to the next court, not
to say of the character and career of the brutal Prescott, while commanding afterward on Rhode Island.
The cause of Major Brown's failure to cross, and, with Allen, attack Montreal, has never been explained. The plan was good, and would doubtless have been successful. Half carried out, it proved disastrous, and both Brown and Allen were blamed, the .one for proposing, the other for attempting, such a hazardous enterprise.
After the fall of St. John's, General Montgomery pressed on toward Montreal. Carleton knew its weakness, and at once retreated on board one of the vessels of a small fleet lying in the river. Montgomery entered the town in triumph the day after Carleton and (November 13,1775.) the garrison left it. He treated the people humanely, and secured their confidence and good will. Finding there a large supply of woolen goods, he set about clothing his army, so that those who accompanied him further in the campaign might he prepared for the rigors of a Canadian winter.
As soon as Montgomery saw the disposition of the garrison to flee, he dispatched Colonel Easton with Continental troops, cannon, and armed gondolas to the mouth of the Sorel. This force was so advantageously posted that the British fleet' could not pass, and General Prescott, several officers, members of the Canadian Council, and one hundred and twenty private soldiers, with all the vessels, surrendered by capitulation. (1) At the midnight preceding Governor Carleton was conveyed in a boat, with muffled oars, past the American post to Three Rivers, and arrived safely at Quebec. The Americans were very anxious to secure Governor Carleton, for his talents, judgment, and influence formed the basis of strength against the invaders. They were watchful in their guard boats, but a dark night and a secret way favored his escape, and they secured a far inferior captive in Prescott, whose conduct, on many occasions, made him a disgrace to the British army. Notwithstanding all the important posts in Canada except quebec were now in possession of the Americans, Montgomery justly asserted in a letter to Congress that, "till Quebec is taken, Canada is unconquered." Impressed with this idea, he determined to push forward to the capital despite the inclemency of the season and the desertion of his troops. The term of service of many had expired, and others absolutely refused to proceed further. Insubordination manifested itself among the officers, and required all the address the general was master of to induce a respectable force to march to Quebec, after garrisoning Montreal. But amid all these discouragements
to come here and lie and juggle about it." The result
was, that the postponement of the claim was amicably arranged between the
1 There were eleven sail of vessels. Their contents were 760 barrels of flour, 675 barrels of beef, 376 firkins of butter, 3 barrels of powder, 4 nine and six pouuders, cartridges and ball, 2380 musket cartridges, 8 chests of arms, 200 pairs of shoes, and a quantity of intrenching tools.
2 Guy Carleton, afterward Lord Dorchester, was Wolfe's quartermaster at the storming of Quebec, and was appointed a major in the British army in 1772. In 1774 he was constituted Captain-general and Governor of Quebec or Canada. He successfully commanded the British at Quebec when attacked by Montgomery in 1775, compelled the Americans to raise the siege in 1776, and drove them out of the province. In October he recaptured Crown Point. He was unjustly superseded in military command by Burgoyne in 1777. He was appointed to succeed Sir Henry Clinton in 1782, and was in command of the British troops when they evacuated New York on the 25th of November, 1783. He died in England at the close of 1808, aged 83 years.
the hopeful general did not despair. He knew that Arnold was traversing the wilderness along the Keenebeck and the Chaudiere to join him, and was then, perhaps, menacing Quebec; and he knew also that the troops under Carleton and M'Lean were hardly adequate to defend the city, even against a smaller force than his own. He winnowed his army of the recusant and mutinous, and then pushed onward down the St. Lawrence.(1)
I remarked that I left my pleasant company at Montreal, and went down to Longueuil. My object was to ascertain, if possible, the place where Warner planted his battery and repulsed the boats of Carleton. Longueuil is an old town, chiefly composed of small stone houses with steep roofs. It has a spacious French church, of antique appearance, though not more than thirty years old. The people all speak bad French, and for more than an hour I sought the "oldest inhabitant." That mysterious creature was an old woman of unknown age, and so deaf that she could not hear half I said, or understand a word. I reciprocated the latter infirmity, and now confess profound ignorance of all she attempted to say. An intelligent lad came to the rescue, and silenced our jargon batteries by referring me to his uncle, who lived near the beach, and" knew every thing." He was a man about fifty, and spoke English pretty well. I made my business known, and he at once assumed the patronizing air of Sir Oracle, said he knew it all, and, pointed to the shore a little above as the very spot where " the cavalry horses were stabled," and where "the English dragoons drank a health to King George and vowed death to the Yankees." He knew Sir George Prevost, and praised the veterans of Wellington who accompanied him. As British dragoons and Wellington's veterans were not with Carleton, and as my mentor's first birth-day doubtless occurred twenty years after the time in question, I properly doubted his knowledge of the facts I was in search of. I told him that it was the American Revolution I was inquiring about. He did not seem to understand me, and I called it rebellion. " Oh oui!" yes, yes, I know," he exclaimed. "Two hundred crossed here for St. John's. Captain Glasgow was a fine fellow. Pity Lord Elgin wasn't as great a man as Sir John Colborne." With exhausted patience, I explained to him the time and nature of the Revolution of the last century, but he had never heard of it! He knew nothing behind his own" life and times." As he represented the" collective wisdom" of the village, I despaired of better success, and returned to Montreal with the fruit of a three hours' expedition under a hot sun-a Yankee's postulate-a shrewd guess. I was as little successful in my search at Montreal for the battle-ground where Ethan Allen and his men were made prisoners. An intelligent gentleman, who was one of the leaders in the rebellion there in 1837, assured me that the spot was unknown to the inhabitants, for tradition has but little interest in keeping its finger upon the locality, and not a man was living who had personal knowledge of the event. It is probable that the northern suburbs of the city now cover the locality, and that the place is not far from the present Longueuil ferry-landing.
Having accomplished my errand at Montreal, we departed for Quebec toward evening, in the fine steamer John Munn, accompanied by our Burlington friends of the morning. The magnificent stone quays were crowded with people, and our boat had a full complement of passengers. At the lower end of St. Helen's we entered the St. Mary's Rapids, and, darting past Longueuil, were soon out of sight of the spires of Montreal. The banks of the river are low, and on either side villages and cultivated fields exhibited an ever-changing and pleasing panorama. Beloeil Mountain loomed up eastward of us, and the white chapel, the pedestal of the bishop's huge cross upon the loftiest summit, sparkled like a star in the beams of the setting sun. It was twilight when we arrived at William Henry, or Sorel, an old town, forty-five miles below Montreal, at the mouth of the Richelieu or Sorel River. A
1 Several hundred of the militia, regardless of order, took the nearest route to their respective homes in New England and New York. About three hundred arrived in a body at Ticonderoga, and, flinging their heavy packs over their shoulders, crossed the lake on the ice, and traversed the wilderness through the deep snow to their homes in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. It was an undertaking quite as perilous as the siege of Quebec. The endearments of home were the goal of the one, military glory was that of the other. The choice, though not creditable to them as patriots, deserves our respectful homage.
French engineer named Sorel built a fort there as early as 1665, and the present town occupies its site. Our boat tarried there an hour for passengers and freight, but it grew too dark to see much of the town. A motley group crowded the narrow wharf, and when we left, the forward deck was covered with cabbages, leeks, and onions for the Quebec market, which afforded perfume gratuitously for the whole boat.
Sorel was a place of considerable importance at the time of our Revolution. Standing at the mouth of a navigable river, and at the narrowest part of the St. Lawrence between Montreal and Quebec, its possession was important to both belligerents. When the Americans approached Canada in 1775, Colonel M'Lean, with a Scotch regiment of Royal Highlanders, went up from Quebec and took station there. When Carleton left Montreal to re-enforce the garrison at St. John's, M'Lean was to join him near Longueuil; but the unexpected repulse of the former by the Green Mountain Boys, and the spreading of American detachments over the country east of the St. Lawrence, between it and the Richelieu, so alarmed M'Lean, that he not only fell back precipitately to Sorel, but abandoned that post to Colonel Easton, and retired to Quebec. At Sorel, Colonel Easton did good service a few weeks later, when, with floating batteries and cannon on shore, he disputed the passage of the British fleet retreating from Montreal, and captured the whole flotilla, with General Prescott.
Leaving Sorel, we passed several islands, and then entered Lake St. Peter's, an expansion of the St. Lawrence about twenty-five miles long, and having an average width of nine miles. A half moon dimly lighted the sluggish waters, and defined an outline of the huge serpent of smoke which our vessel left trailing behind. The shores disappeared in the night shadows, and one after another of the passengers retired to bed, until the promenade deck was deserted, except by two young ladies, whose sweet voices charmed us for an hour with "Dearest May" and kindred melodies. It was near midnight when the nightingales ceased their warbling, and I sought the repose of my state-room.
Three Rivers, St. Anne's, the Richelieu Rapids, Cape Rouge, Chaudiere, Sillery Cove, and New Liverpool were all passed during our slumbers, but we were upon the deck in the morning in time to catch the first glimpse of Quebec in the distance. A forest of masts, above which loomed Cape Diamond crowned with the gray citadel and its threatening ordnance, were the first objects in view. But as our vessel made a graceful sweep toward Point Levi, and "rounded to" at the Queen's Wharf, I think I never saw a more picturesque scene. It was just at sunrise, and the morning was cloudless. As the orb of day carne up from the eastern hills, the city, spread out upon the steep acclivities and along the St. Charles, reflected back its bright rays from a thousand windows, and roofs of polIshed tin. All was a-glow with luster, except the dark walls and the shipping, and for the moment the creations of Aladdin's Lamp seemed before us. The enchantment was soon over, and was succeeded by the sober prose of travel, as we passed slowly to the upper town along the narrow and crooked Mountain Street, through Prescott Gate, closely jammed in a pigmy coach. We found comfortable quarters at the Albion, on Palace Street, one of the most respectable English hotels in the upper city. After breakfast we ordered a barouche, to visit the Falls of Montmorenci, the Plains of Abraham, and other places of note, and obtained a permit from the commandant to enter the citadel. Before making the interesting tour, let us turn to a map of the city, trace out its walls and gates and general topography, and consult the chronicle of its history; then we shall view its celebrities understandingly.
EXPLANATION OF THE DIAGRAM.-A is the St. Charles River; E, the St. Lawrence; a is Palace Gate; b, Gate St. John's; e, Gate St. Louis; d, Governor's Garden, wherein is a stone monument in memory of Wolfe and Montcalm; e, the portion of Cape Diamond at the foot of which Montgomery was killed; f, the grand battery; g, Prescott Gate; h, Hope Gate; o is a bold point of rock in the Sault-au-Matelot, where Arnold was wounded. The walls here given, with the citadel, inclose the upper town.
Quebec is situated upon and around a lofty promontory at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and the St. Charles Rivers, and is so strongly guarded against intruders, by steep acclivities on nearly three sides, that it has been aptly named the "Gibraltar of America." Art has added strength to these natural defenses, and, except on the rear, it is absolutely impregnable to any known implements of war. Before it spreads out a magnificent basin, where a hundred ships of the line might ride at anchor; and around it, as far as the eye can reach, industry has planted a beautiful garden. The plains of the St. Charles, the towering Cap Tourment, the Falls of Montmorenci and of the Chaudiere, the lovely Island of Orleans, and the pleasant slopes of Point Levi, unite, with the city itself, to make up a cluster of attractions with which those of few places on earth can vie.
(July, 1608.) The foundation of the city was laid two hundred and forty years ago, by Samuel Champlain, and yet it is just upon the margin of the primeval forest which extends from a narrow selvage of civilization along the St. Lawrence to the Arctic regions. When Champlain, with great parade, laid the foundation stone of the future city, Old Hochelaga (now Montreal), discovered by Cartier more than a hundred years before, was blotted from existence, and but a few whites were planting corn and sowing wheat where the Indian gardens had flourished. Religion and commerce joined hands, and the new city soon became the capital of French dominion in America. From it missionaries and traders went westward to obtain peltry and furs, make geographical discoveries, and convert the heathen, and in a few years the French language was heard in the deep forests that skirted the vast lakes, from the Thousand Islands at the foot of Ontario to the broad waters of the Huron. Immigration steadily augmented the population, churches and convents were erected,(1) and the bastioned walls of old Fort St. Louis, mounted with cannon, were piled around the temples of the Prince of Peace at Quebec; for the treacherous Algonquin, the wily Iroquois, and the bloody Huron, though mutual enemies, coalesced in jealousy of the French and a desire to crush their rising strength. As the colony increased in power, and, through its missionaries, in influence over the Indian tribes, the more southern English colonies became jealous, and a deep-seated animosity between them prevailed for a generation. At length the two governments quarreled, and their respective colonies gladly espoused each the cause of the parent state. To guard the St. Lawrence, the French built a strong fortress upon the Island of Cape Breton, and also began a cordon of forts along the lakes and the Ohio and Mississippi. Frontenac, Oswego, Niagara, Duquesne, and Detroit arose along the frontier. Fleets and armies came from the Old World; the colonists armed and formed strong battalions; the savage tribes were feasted, and bribed, and affiliated with European warriors, and wilderness America became a battle arena. In a little while the different fortresses changed masters; Louisburgh, the strong-hold of French military power in America, fell before the skill and bra very of Amherst and Wolfe; and at the beginning of 1759 Quebec was the only place of considerable importance in possession of the French.
We have considered, in a preceding chapter, the success of Amherst and Wolfe in the capture of Louisburgh, and the high reputation which that event gave them. Pitt, relying upon the skill and bravery of these two commanders, resolved, if possible, to conquer all Canada in a single campaign, intrusting the chief command to Amherst. That general, with a large force, attempted to join Wolfe at Quebec, by sweeping Lake Champlain and capturing Montreal; he was unsuccessful, and Wolfe alone had the glory of the siege of Quebec.
Wolfe embarked eight thousand troops at Louisburgh, under convoy of a
fleet of twenty
two ships of the line, and an equal number of frigates and smaller armed vessels, commanded by Admirals Saunders and Holmes. He landed his army safely near the Church of St. Laurent, (June 27, 1759.) upon the Island of Orleans, a few miles below Quebec, where, under the direction of Sir Guy Carleton (afterward governor of Canada), batteries were erected.
1 These were placed upon the most accessible portions of the promontory, and near them the rude buildings of the people were erected. To these circumstances Mr. Hawkins, author of a capital" Guide to Quebec," ascribes the present irregular course of the streets.
The brave and accomplished Montcalm, with an army of thirteen thousand men, six battalions of which were regulars, and the others Canadians and Indians, occupied the city with a garrison, and a strongly intrenched camp upon the heights of Beauport, extending from the St. Charles to the River Montmorenci. The center of the camp and Montcalm's
headquarters were at Beauport. The whole front was intrenched and well defended from the English cannon. Beyond the right wing a bridge was thrown across the St. Charles, and strongly protected, to keep up a communication with the city. There were also two batteries for its defense, placed upon hulks sunk in the channel.
Wolfe sent General Monkton to take possession of Point Levi, opposite Quebec. He landed at Beaumont, and marched up to the point with little opposition, where (June 29.) he erected batteries, from which the shots dealt destruction upon the lower town lying upon the St. Charles, but had no effect upon the walls of the city. Finding efforts from that point unavailing, Wolfe, with his division on Orleans, crossed the north channel of the St. Lawrence, and encamped near the left bank of the Montmorenci, within cannon shot of the left wing of the enemy on the other side of the river. He met with (July 10) fierce opposition, but succeeded in maintaining his ground and erecting two batteries there. Still, Quebec was too distant to be affected by any of his works, and he resolved upon the bold measure of storming the strong camp of the enemy. On the last day of July the troops at Point Levi, and a large number of grenadiers under General Monkton, crossed the St. Lawrence in the boats of the fleet, and landed a little above the Montmorenci. At the same time those below Montmorenci, under Generals Townshend and Murray, crossed that stream by fording it near its mouth, at low water, and joined the other division upon the beach. The enemy at once made arrangements to receive them. The right of the French was
1 This sketch is taken from Durham Terrace, near the north wall of the Castle Garden. In the foreground are the tops of the houses below in Champlain, Notre Dame, and St. Peter's Streets, and in the distance, across the St. Lawrence, is seen Point. Levi, with its pretty little village, its church and wharves. On the extreme left, in the distance, is the upper end of the Island of Orleans, which divides the channel. The point seen is the place where Wolfe erected batteries.
under Baron de St. Ours, the eenter under De Senezergues, and the left under M. Herbin The garrison in the city was commanded by M. de Ramezay.
It was nearly night when the English divisions joined, and heavy thunder-clouds were rolling up from the west. The grenadiers, impatient of restraint, rushed madly upon the enemy's works, before the other troops that were to sustain them had time to form. Consequently they were driven back to the beach with a severe loss, and sought shelter behind a redoubt which had been abandoned by the enemy. The French kept up a galling fire, till the gathering tempest burst with great fury upon the belligerents. Night closed in while the storm was yet raging. The tide came roaring up against the current of the St. Lawrence with uncommon strength, and the British were obliged to retreat to their camp across the Montmo. renci, to avoid submersion on the beach by the foaming waters. The loss of the English in that unfortunate attempt was one hundred and eighty killed and six hundred and fifty wounded.
Wolfe was greatly dispirited by this event, for he was very sensitive to censure, and that he expected for this miscarriage. The emotions of his mind, co-operating with fatigue of body upon his delicate constitution, brought on a fever and dysentery, that nearly proved fatal. It was nearly a month before he was able to resume the command. When suffieiently recovered to write, he drew up a letter to Pitt, in which, after detailing (September 2.) the events, referring to his illness, and frankly confessing that he had called a council of war, he said, "I found myself so ill, and am still so weak, that I begged the general officers to consult together for the general safety. . . . . . . We have almost the whole force of Canada to oppose us. In this situation there is such a choice of difficulties, that I own myself at a loss how to determine. The affairs of Great Britain require the most vigorous measures; but then the courage of a handful of brave men should be exerted only where there is some hope of a favorable event." When this letter reached England, it excited consternation and anger.(1) Pitt feared that he had mistaken his favorite general, and that the next news would be that he had either been destroyed or had capitulated. But in the conclusion of his melancholy epistle Wolfe had said he would do his best; and that best turned out a miracle of war. He declared that he would rather die than be brought to a court-martial for miscarrymg, and, in conjunction with Admiral Saunders, he concerted a plan for scaling the Heights of Abraham, and gaining possession of the elevated plateau at the back of Quebec, on the side where the fortifications were the weakest, as the French en. gineers had trusted to the precipices and the river beneath.(2)
The camp at Montmorenci was broken up, and the artillery and ttoops were conveyed across to Point Levi, whence they were taken some distance up the river by a (September 12.) portion of the fleet under Holmes, while Saunders, with the rest of the fleet, remained behind to make a feigned attack upon the intrenchments at Beauport. Montcalm, unable to comprehend these movements, remained in his camp, while Bougainville was stationed a little above the Plains of Abraham, to watch the operations of the division of the English fleet that sailed up the river.
At night the troops were aU embarked in flat-boats, and proceeded up the river with the tide. Bourgainville saw them, and marched up the shore to prevent their landing. It was starlight, yet so cautiously did the boats, with mumed oars, move down the river toward daylight, with ebb tide, that they were unperceived by the French detachment, and landed safely in a cove below SiUery, now called Wolfe's Cove. The first division was commandod by Lieutenant-colonel (afterward General) Sir William Howe, and were all on shore at dawn. The light infantry scrambled up the woody precipice, and dispersed a French guard under Captain de Verjer,(3) while the rest of the army clambered up a winding and steep ravine.
1 The news of the failure of Wolfe at Montmorenci reached
England on the morning of the 16th of October, and was published in an extra
Gazette of that date. The same evening Captain Hale arrived and brought
the news of the triumph upon the Plains of Abraham. The general grief was
suddenly changed into great joy, and a day for public thanksgiving was set
apart by the old king.
2 Pictorial History of England, iv., 609.
3 The French guard, who could not comprehend the noise below them, fired down the precipice at random
The second division, under General Townshend, landed in good order, and before sunrise five , thousand British troops were drawn up in battle array upon the Plains of Abraham, three hundred feet above the St. Lawrenee. 1759. (September 13, 1759.)
The appearance of the English troops upon the heights was the first intimation Montcalm had of the real intentions of his enemy. He at once saw the imminent danger to which the city and garrison were exposed, and immediately marched his whole army across the St. Charles to attack the English. He brought his troops into battle line about ten o'dock in the morning. He had two field pieces; the English but one, a light six pounder, which - some sailors succeeded in dragging up the ravine at about eight o'clock in the morning.
I am indebted to Alfred Hawkins, Esq., of Quebec, for the following account of the position of the two armies, and the present localities identified therewith: "The battle-ground presents almost a level surface from the brink of the St. Lawrence to the St. Fay Road, The Grand Allee, or road to Cape Rouge, running parallel to that of St. Fay, passes through its center. That road was commanded by a field redoubt, a four-gun battery on the English left, which was captured by the light infantry. The remains of this battery are distinctly seen near the present race-stand. Thcre were also two other redoubts, one upon the rising ground in the rear of Mr. C. Campbell's house-the scene of Wolfe's death -and the other toward the St. Foy Road, which it was intended to command. On the site of the country seat called Marchmont, at prescnt the residence of Major-general Sir James Hope, K.C.B., there was also a small redoubt commanding the intrenched path leading to the cove. This was taken possession of by the adnnced guard of the light infantry immediately on ascending the height. At the time of the battle the plains were without fences or inclosures, and extended to the walls on the St. Louis side. The surface was dotted over with bushes, and the roads on either side were more dense than at present, affording shelter to the French and Indian marksmen.
"In order to understand the relative position of the two armies, if a line be drawn to the St.Lawrence from the General Hospital, it will give nearly the front of the French army at ten o'clock, after Montcalm had deployed into line. His right reached beyond the St. Foy Road, where he made dispositions to turn the left of the English. Another parallel line, 8Imewhat in advance of Mr. C. G. Stewart's house on the St. Foy Road, will give the front oftbe British army before Wolfe charged at the head of the grenadiers of the twenty-second, fortieth, and forty-fifth rcgiments, who had acquired the honorable title of the Louisburgh Grenndiers, from having been distinguished at the capture of that place, under his own command, in 1758. To meet the attempt of Montcalm to turn the British left, General Town!bend formed the fifteenth regiment en potence, or representing a double front. The light infantry were in the rear of the left, and the reserve was placed near the right, formed in eight suhdivisions, a good distance apart."
Wolfe placed himself on the right, at the head of the twenty-eighth regiment of Louisburgh Grenadiers, who were burning with a desire to avenge their defeat at the Montmorenci. The English had waited four hours for the approaeh of the French, and were fully prepared for action.
and so the British fired up. They all fled but the captain,
who was wounded and taken prisoner. He said the poor fellow begged the British
officer to sign a certificate of his courage and fidelity, lest he would
be punished for accepting a bribe, in the belief that Wolfe's bold enterprise
would be deemed impossible without corruption.
1 This scene is about half way up the ravine from Wolfe's Cove, looking down the road, which is a steep aad winding way from the river to the summit of the Plains of Abraham. It is a cool, shaded nook-a delightful retreat from the din and dust of the city in summer.
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